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clair hemming

Posted 22 October 2019
by Clair Hemming

Erb’s Palsy Awareness Week 2019 ‘Then and Now’ – Kirsty’s story

Kirsty Erbs Palsy Awareness Week

Hello everyone, I’m Kirsty. I have left a grade 3 Erb’s Palsy, with pretty limited movement and very limited strength. I’ve had four operations to improve the function in my arm, which have helped. Erb’s Palsy is part of my life, but I think it’s one of the least interesting things about me; and hopefully you’ll agree with me once I tell you more!

When I was a teenager, the thing I talked about the most and was very involved in was theatre. I was part of a Youth Theatre for five years, and had many roles in the company, including roles in plays. I was lucky enough to perform on a professional stage for several productions. One of my favourite shows had a chorus of over a hundred people, of which I was part, and ended with a whole cast choreographed dance routine. I was part of the Mentoring team for two years; we helped new members settle in, organised and ran social events as a team, and helped to ensure the Youth Theatre ran smoothly. I still love the theatre today and go as often as I can afford it!

Another love in my life is swimming. I used to be a very poor swimmer, but absolutely loved being in the water so I had one to one swimming lessons when I was around fourteen years old. I’d tried group swimming lessons in the past, but they weren’t tailored enough to my needs. Friends and family rate this as one of my achievements in life and I agree with them, as I can remember the before and after. For me this was absolutely worth it, because I go swimming often now and it’s become an easy activity.

I’m currently at university, living independently and away from home; which no one expected me to be able to do when I was a child. I’ve found ways to do most small daily things, and I work around the activities that I can’t. I’ve used some of the compensation I was awarded to buy aids that help me; like a lightweight laptop and other technical equipment, a really lightweight hairdryer, rubber mats to hold things steady, lidded mugs, and clothes alterations where needed. I also wear sturdy, heavy soled shoes as Erb’s Palsy makes my balance poor and this helps considerably; these are expensive compared to other shoes. I get my food shopping delivered because I can’t carry it myself, and my flatmate will often help me carry baskets of washing or heavy things upstairs that I cannot carry. I have a passion for cooking which comes with some limitations, especially with lifting heavy pots. I love trying out new recipes, and cook fresh for myself all the time. I love cooking for my friends and family when I get the chance.

What am I studying? I’m training to be a Speech and Language Therapist. Speech and Language Therapists work with people of all ages on speech, language, communication problems, and difficulties swallowing. These problems can be caused by a range of issues, for example: physical or learning disabilities, developmental delays, mental health issues, and illnesses or injuries. Speech and Language Therapists often work with other health care professionals, and can work in a variety of places such as hospitals, schools, prisons, client’s homes and community clinics. Research shows that over 60% of young offenders have speech, language and communication needs. The criminal justice system and forensic speech therapy is an area that currently fascinates me. I’m also interested in working with adults with learning disabilities, as the way they communicate is so varied.

I have a lot of hopes and dreams for my career, but I also have the usual dreams for my future. I’d like to do some travelling abroad, and maybe stay for an extended period once I’ve qualified. I’d like to get married one day and have a family, and there’s no reason why Erb’s Palsy should stop me from doing that.

I’m a Christian, and a part of a church. I serve within the church when I can. I’m training at the moment to become part of the sound team. I hope to be able to serve more regularly within my church in the future and become more involved. The people at church have always been incredibly welcoming, and my Erb’s has never been mentioned.

If you’re a parent of a child with Erb’s Palsy, I hope you will allow me to give you some advice as someone who has the condition. Erb’s Palsy doesn’t stop a child from living a fulfilling life. I can’t change a light bulb and I won’t ever be able to wallpaper a wall, but I don’t need to in order to live a fulfilling life. Often what holds me back are my preconceived ideas of whether I’ll be able to do something, and other people sharing whether they think I can or can’t achieve that. Encourage your child to try things; have realistic expectations but let them try to work out their own way of doing things. There will be things that your child really cannot do, but these will be fewer than you imagine with their determination to succeed.

You don’t know if you can until you try! Just keep swimming!!
Kirsty


To raise awareness of this condition and to support the Erb’s Palsy Group Tozers are running a series of articles this week written by young people who have Erb’s Palsy,
entitled “Then and Now”.

These inspirational stories are intended to celebrate the achievements of these individuals despite a difficult start in life, to offer hope and support to those new families with a baby or young child with the condition.

We have over 25 years of experience in bringing clinical negligence claims for compensation on behalf of Claimant’s with Erb’s Palsy. We have developed a wealth of knowledge in relation to this condition.

For further advice please contact our specialists at Broadwalk House, Southernhay West, Exeter EX1 1UA. Call 01392 207020 or email enquiries@tozers.co.uk.

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About the author

clair hemming

Clair Hemming

Partner and Solicitor

Partner and solicitor in the medical negligence department and a member of the Devon & Exeter Medico Legal Society and the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel